Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Welcome fascism!

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the Flag, and carrying a cross." -Sinclair Lewis

I fear he may have been right.

(Lest anyone think I've boosted the photo and taken food out of some poor Alaskan photographer's mouth (and in light of recent events))...The image is from Alaskastock.com. The image is here. The instructions under the photo state "To download image for comp use...", so I'm assuming it is OK to use. "Comp use" seems to be definied as "PRIVATE USE, limited to: (a) personal, non-commercial or (b) sample, design, test, or layout use ("comp use")"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Fixed Forest Foray

(That one was for you, Spearman)

With the untimely demise of my road fixie last week I had the brilliant idea to take fixing into the woods. Why not? I had just started my affair with fixed riding. If I shelved it now until a new road frame presented itself (side note: if anybody comes across a bigass (59+cm), cheapass (<$100) road frame capable of fixing, email me please!), who knows how long I'd have to wait. So I pulled the rear wheel off the roadie, pulled the tire off the wheel, slapped a dirt tire on and put the whole shebang on the Karate Monkey. At 32x15, she's not optimally geared, but I was hoping she was at leas survivable.

Having taken last Tuesday and Wednesday off of work, I was able to sneak in my first fixed dirt ride at Wakefield. Truthfully...it was a lot of fun. Way more than I expected. And not nearly as agonizing as I had envisioned. I guess the same could have been said at the dawn of my singlespeed riding years back. In each case, I fully expected the experience to be agonizing. Not understanding how or why so many friends chose to endure it in the name of "fun".

Anyway, for those familiar with Wakefield, I started on the flattest section I could find...the far end opposite where the races are run. I tooled around on the flats for a while until I felt comfortable pedaling every dirt inch. I then headed over to try my luck riding the race course (which is a bit more hilly). By the end of my hour ride, I think I had covered the whole race course, and even added in a few climbs just to see if I could manage them.

So I guess my shopping list is a bit longer now, and must include a new Tomi Cog in a more dirt friendly size. Spearman has generously offered the loan of his 19t Tomi cog. I hope to give that a spin and decide if 19t or 20t is the sweet spot I require.

As for riding fixed on dirt, it's amazing how quickly you stop thinking about the fact that you're constantly pedaling. That always seemed to be the most physically daunting aspect of fixed dirt riding (or road riding, for that matter). But after a short while, you don't even notice it...Until you try to coast when crossing a log. Twice. Aside from that, there were no mishaps. I made all but one of the climbs I attempted. I successfully crossed about 40% of the logs I attempted. I had to bail on a few attempts, but I never fully hit the ground. I did keep grabbing my rear brake lever. The fact that its cable lead to a caliper sans rotor never seemed to sink in.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Broken? Fixed?

When life gives you "Goddamnit, my frame broke" make "Goddamnit, my frame broke"-ade.

In a plot that could only have been conceived by my fatass after two (so far) 8% ABV beers...

After a couple of half-commutes* into the office on the fixie, I noticed the headtube/toptube crack mentioned previously had bested my attempt to have it welded shut and had re-cracked. (Cue the much deserved "Told ya so" from Spearman and Palmero Cycles). I decided not to further risk life and limb and deconstructed the bike. My original plan was to take the parts off and fix the other frame hanging in my bike shop...and '80s era Canondale. Sadly, that bike has got two things going against it: vertical drops and a ridiculously-long 11.25" head-tube (for which, apparently, no fork exists with a long enough steer tube) so that plan was ruled out.

So now my former Sekai fixie sits disassembled in the basement. Destined for a sledgehammer and a recycling bin. (Don't want anybody finding it and trying to use it again). With play-money in short supply these days, the question becomes "What to do about my budding interest in fixed-gear riding...on a budget?".

Cue the beer.

At some point in the evening (at about beer 1.25), I decided it would be fun/interesting/adventurous/life-threatening (in a good way) to fix my Karate Monkey mountain bike. Why not? It's got 29er wheels (which are nothing more than 700c road wheels with a fatty mountain tire on there). It seemed destiny. All I needed do was take the fixed rear wheel from the recently departed Sekai and mount the 29er mountain tire on it. There will be no rear brake, as the wheel from the Sekai had a non-disk hub, and the KM is disk, but running fixed, all that is necessary is a front brake. Which I've got covered. You want a brake in back? Stop pedaling.

10 minutes and a couple of greasy knuckles later and I've got a fixed off-road machine.

There's little chance of her ending up on any hardcore trails (the 'Shed, Gambrill are right out, not that I ride there often anyway...I'm just sayin'). Inaugural ride will probably be Wakefield. As will many subsequent rides. And the lamest/flattest part of Wakefield that I can find. If I'm feeling particularly strong, I might try to climb a hill, but no promises. The only fixed cog I have is 15t mounted to the formerly-road wheel. The cog that came off of the KM was a 20t. That's a 5t difference that I'm gonna feel. A lot. The chainring on the KM is 32t. So...

The gear-inch measure that I'm used to riding off-road is 46.4.
The current gear-inch is 61.9.

Truth be told, I don't know what exactly gear-inches are, but bigger=harder. I foresee a lot of hiking on my future mountain bike rides. More then usual, even.

* As I'm still quite new to fixed gear biking, I opted to test-commute before committing to the full 10 mile ride. I drove about half-way in and biked the other half.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Oh, snap! As my eagle-eyed buddy RickyD discovered and posted over on bikecentric, it appears that one of my photos...

Cleared for take-off

...has been, um, borrowd...

...at least in concept. And by none other than Bicycling magazine, in both print (October 2008 edition, page 49) and on the web.

Just for fun, I thought we'd play that old Highlights Magazine game "Spot the similarities/difference between the two photos". Here's what I found:

Things that are the same
Baby-blue frame
Skinny, black fork
Front disk brake
Rear rim brake
Bendy (Mary?) handlebars
Bike position over log
Rider's leg position
Race number plate
Zip-tie position holding front brake cable to fork
Black spandex shorts, light swoosh (and position of swoosh)
Black socks with light top
Black shoes with three light straps, yellowish sole and yellowish heel part
Black 3/4 finger gloves with small white stripe at the pinky
Backpack straps (number and position including the dangling end of a strap)
Thick stripe down the side of the rider's jersey

Things that are different
Jersey color
Number on race plate
Their rider doesn't have a head. Poor fella.

(Some of the similarities and differences are more easily seen looking at the larger copy of their illustration found in the print mag.)

Did I miss anything?

I wonder if I should be more pissed than I am. I mean, imitation *is* the greatest form of flattery. But flattery don't pay the rent. Maybe I'll send them an email.


My buddy Ben (THANKS BEN!) put together a little animated GIF of the two images. It leaves no doubt that they're the exact same shot. In fact, I'd be surprised if the "artist" did little more than take my image, run a Photoshop "sketch" filter on it, and posted it. Make sure your image animation is turned on then check it out...

It's not as humorous to me this morning.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bet the authors didn't think of that one.

The wife heard of a book titled something like "365 Things to do with your Baby", so naturally, I asked Google where to find it. I don't think that's one of the 365 things she had in mind. Er...hopefully.